Saturday, December 17, 2011

excited to partner with celebrity event designer Samantha Goldberg of the Style network!

We are thrilled to announce our new partnership with savvy event powerhouse Samantha Goldberg ... an amazing talent with a zest for chic and sassy style. Now entering her 9th season on the Style network's "Whose Wedding Is It Anyway", Samantha has created many an elegant celebration in her 20 years in the business, and has crafted unique & personalized experiences for discerning people who are used to nothing but the BEST!
Samantha brings a wealth of creativity and design flair to our new *Bling!* line of our innovative PortaPocket carrying fancied up with sparkle & shine!
Watch for our new website and the debut of *Bling!* unveiled there in the early part of the New Year.
get ready to get your bling on...and be that savvy fashionista who can now safely and confidently dance the night away...hands free!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

it's not IF it will's WHEN

Got a letter from a gal the other day... on our website.
she said she wanted to explain herself (...not that she needed to!) but she said she had been ordering our products over and over again in the last few months so wanted to share why...
Of course I'd noticed her and appreciated it, but glad she felt like sharing...
she said the reason she kept ordering is that she liked PortaPocket so much she kept coming back to get more pieces to add to her collection. And if she'd known how much she was going to like it at the start, she would've just ordered everything at once.
But she also shared how she found out about us in the first place...

She and her husband and friends were robbed.
At gunpoint.

She said the guy took everything -- credit cards, keys, phones, etc.
It was horrifying and scary but was so glad she was ok...
But, given that that point she vowed to never ever ever carry ANYthing of value in her purse ever again. So she went looking for an answer on-line. Didn't find what she wanted at Magellan's. Didn't find what she wanted at TravelSmith. Kept looking...looking...looking....and found US!
I was grateful for her kind words, and glad to be of service.
But it just goes to show....this world is a difficult place right now.
And these kinds of things are bound to keep happening.
Please don't let this kind of thing happen before you think of ways to protect yourself.
After's not a matter of IF....
it's WHEN.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Kate channels Marilyn (Monroe) moment...

Happy July! Where does the time GO??
Hope you are having a great summer...maybe some travel...maybe some fun. And maybe you noticed the media coverage of Prince William & Duchess Catherine's visit to North America. And the teensy incident of the helicopter blowing up Miss Kate's yellow frock. Whoops! If you're human you know that even a princess has things she'd like to keep discreet. least discreet most of the time...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

10 things to consider when planning an outdoor wedding celebration

10 things to consider when planning an outdoor wedding celebration

It's truly wonderful to hold a momentous day in the great outdoors. Such an event can be beautifully memorable but can also offer unique challenges all its own. Savvy brides will be aware of these additional areas of attention and keep them in mind to maximize the chances of a flawless affair:

1. Have a backup plan

prepare for the unexpected and rent a tent or have an indoor venue that is immediately capable of handling your guests at the drop of a hat (or a raindrop)! We all wish to think Mother Nature will smile on us, but despite the weatherman's best forecast, sometimes circumstances are not what we wish for...or expect.

2. A breeze is nice, but...

Your picture perfect day may not be when your aisle arrangements, programs or place cards start playing "Gone with the Wind." Make sure to weight the bases of elements that you'd like to remain stationary. At times it can be prudent to even stake aisle pieces down to be extra secure – just make sure your fixes don't become tripping hazards in themselves by extending into footpaths.

For the tablecards, it might be better to use items in place of cards that are naturally heavier... perhaps small picture frames. It would be best to have a designated person minding this table area to ensure things run smoothly, or even handing these items directly to each guest if weather conditions dictate.

3. Save our soles

Try to ward off fashion faux pas by including the word "outdoor" on a save-the-date card and deliver word of mouth advice on footwear suggestions when opportunities arise. But you can't stop some gal pals who are determined to wear stillettos no matter what. It's wise and thoughtful to have a pretty basket of sole-savers on hand at the party, just in case. Heels Above and SoulMates are two brands that offer shoe-saving solutions.

Another way to avoid accidental lawn aeration is to install full subflooring in all areas where the party will be taking place, in advance... but be advised this is a very pricey alternative.

4. Prepare for the uninvited

Flowers and sweet smells often attract insects and bees, which can easily ruin an atmosphere and even can be dangerous if any guests have allergy issues. A prepared bride will have the area fogged for mosquitoes and biting insects on the day of the event (early, before any food arrives). Bees generally don't comply to this type of abatement, so it is better to minimize their threat by not positioning the event near garden beds which contain flowers that bees like (asters, sunflowers, dahlias, roses, & many more...), and not choosing bee-friendly bridal party flowers. Also, do not serve overly sweet drinks that can attract these nuisances, or leave full punchbowls out, especially in the summertime.

5. Mind the valuables

It is often troublesome to babysit a purse or bag while enjoying a wedding, especially while you're at the altar or on the dance floor! A manned, secure area is a good safeguard for bride & maids to leave personal belongings for more hands-free fun. For those who want to keep certain things more accessible, PortaPocket strap-onto-the-body carrying cases can be worn comfortably & discreetly under a gown to make sure ID, cash, cards, keys, lipstick, tampons, cell phone or other essential items are always immediately available without having to interrupt one's activity.

6. Call the cops (& the city...)

Make sure to call the city or village in which the event is taking place to find out if any special permits may be needed or if there are any noise ordinances. It is also useful to let police know that an event is planned so they will be prepared to deal with any issues that may arise. Parking permits or restrictions should be discussed and arrangements made for guests' convenience. Sometimes a nearby forest preserve, school or church parking lot can be rented after hours. If fabric is being used inside a tent for decor, you may need to have flame certification documents for this.

Call well in advance. These are not things you want to learn on the event day -- you don't want your party shut down unexpectedly!

7. Comfort is key

Noone can control the weather, but be mindful of ways to maximize your guests' comfort and enjoyment. In hot conditions, have water and fans available, whether manually-operated paper ones or the electric variety (or both)! Conversely, heaters can be rented on cool days, either those for an enclosed tent or radiant ones for outdoor use. If you plan to have guests seated for anything beyond the shortest of ceremonies, choose chairs with a smooth seat back design as many rental chair styles may look pretty but can be uncomfortable to lean against. Provide ample seating in general – either full seating if a sit-down affair, or seating for ½ to 2/3 of the guest count if a cocktail style party. Also, make sure your location has adequate, well-stocked restroom facilities nearby. There are nicer style single rental restrooms (or even trailers) available if needed, but can be an expensive add.

8. Traffic Flow...of the human kind

Keep your event space pleasing and well-designed by not placing too many elements in one area. Allow for an obstacle-free entry and make sure any food and beverage stations are amply spaced to eliminate overcrowding. Avoid placing popular stations (eg: bar or buffet) in small-sized "dead-end" areas with only one way in and out. Keep chair clearances in mind when setting up dining spaces so people can get up and down from adjacent tables without banging into each other. Leave open space around any catering and bar stations, as well as around the edges of the dancefloor for guest entry and exit.

9. Power, please

Invisible yes, but oh so important. It is imperative to know where your power sources are and how much is available well in advance. Power distribution must be done properly during setup to avoid overloading circuits. You don't want your lighting or music accidentally cutting out! Heat-producing items like coffee makers should be on separate circuits as they demand high levels. Rental generators are available in all sizes if necessary. Although decidely "unsexy"...this is an area in which you can't afford to skimp. Book an operator with your power supply in order to have a knowledgeable person on hand during the festivities.

10. Call JULIE

It's not a "she" but an acronym (in Chicagoland) for Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators. Check with the corresponding service in your area to verify placement of underground utility lines and the like. It is important to know in advance where things are lying underneath so when tent installers come to set up there won't be any rude (or worse, dangerous...) awakenings!

Privately installed septic fields and sprinkler systems can also pose challenges and should be carefully researched as to where their components are located. You don't want any unpleasant surprises.


If you are mindful of the details and give thoughtful attention to these and other elements during thorough planning, your outdoor wedding can be spectacular and go off without a hitch...of course with the exception of the hitching of the bride & groom! In whichever location you choose, best wishes for one of the most memorable events of a lifetime...

May it be everything you had hoped for, and more.

Friday, April 8, 2011

How Can Women Stay Safe When Traveling Solo

Today we're featuring a Guest Post by new travel site

-- hope you ENJOY!

Traveling alone can be one of the most rewarding experiences an individual can ever have, providing opportunities for self-growth and discovery it can be extremely enlightening. The best part about traveling alone is that you can do anything and everything that you want to do, there’s no one holding you back. Unfortunately, traveling alone is becoming more and more daunting, especially for solo female travelers because of safety reasons. Women are intimidated by the horror stories about female travelers being kidnapped, raped or worse because the woman was caught in a vulnerable situation. Yet, if you are smart about the decisions you make while traveling and use your common sense you can help prevent a dangerous situation and still enjoy the pleasures of traveling alone.

Before you start your solo trip the best thing to do is to provide your friends and family with a general itinerary, a basic idea of where you’ll be and when so they can track you. Once you’ve arrived at your destination try to email them as often as possible, also let them know if they won’t be hearing from you for a few days to not raise concern. Regular contact and updates will keep everyone posted on your whereabouts and they’ll be able to notice if anything is off beat and if there’s need for alarm.

When you finally arrive, your next step would be choosing the right sleeping accommodations. If you’ve made reservations ahead of time you should have researched the area and location to determine the safety and reputation of the place. If you’re going to be making your arrangements when you arrive, seek out a place that appears busy & ask about occupancy. The busier the location the more comfortable

you’ll feel staying there. Also consider location, choose a place that is close to your sightseeing destinations that way when you’re walking back you don’t have to go far. Once you’ve chosen where you’ll be staying there are several other measures you can take to ensure your safety:

Request a room near the elevator – in order to avoid walking down long hallways

Avoid ordering in or using house cleaning –this way no one comes to your room and learns you’re alone

If you’re in a hostel:

Always use the lockers provided – make sure to bring your own lock

Never leave your room key unattended – if there are communal restrooms take your key even into the shower (put it in a plastic bag if necessary).

After getting settled in, it’s time to start your adventure! There are a few things though to consider before stepping out and exploring, which includes dress and culture. Knowing how to dress accordingly is extremely important, make sure to do your research. For example, in countries such as Morocco or Egypt, majority of women dress conservatively and don’t show a lot of skin because of their Muslim

beliefs. For your own safety and to avoid any lewd stares or obscene comments your best bet is to dress modestly; don’t wear excessively short bottoms or shirts that are too low cut, you’ll draw unwanted attention from men and possibly offend the locals. If you do find yourself being verbally harassed, ignore the catcalls, unless you feel like you’re in real danger, if you don’t make a fuss then they’re likely to leave you alone. Understanding the regions culture determines your behavior, study what is acceptable

and what is taboo. Things like simple gestures, eye contact and physical contact vary on acceptability; familiarizing yourself with the simple norms can help you avoid any awkward or misleading situations.

Once you head out the door take some general precautions:

Know where you’re going- map out your route, to avoid looking lost

When you do look at your map make sure you’re discrete – sit down and use a small map to not draw attention to yourself

Keep your belongings close at all times - try a money belt or better yet a Portapocket to hide some extra cash or hide some in your bra

Use a cross body bag as a purse - carry it in front of you at all times to prevent pickpocketing

If you’re ever in a mugging situation give up your bag without a fight - by doing so you’re less likely to be physically harmed

Trust your instincts - get out of any scenario that makes you feel uneasy, your gut feeling is your best indicator of a dangerous situation

If you decide to go out in the evening make sure to do the following:

Try to go out with a group - people that you may have met on your travels or at your hostel

Beware when drinking - never take a drink from a stranger or leave yours unattended

Take a cab - avoid walking alone or riding public transportation at night

There’s no reason why you should be afraid to travel alone just because you’re a woman. If you take the right precautions you can have a safe and enjoyable vacation. Traveling alone is a pleasure and if you’re lucky enough to be able to do so just make sure you’re smart in your travels.

Find Book Tour is the ultimate online superstore for vacation tour packages BY TYPE!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

hello, ARNOLD! (er... Andy?)

Earlier this month I had the interesting experience to exhibit at the ARNOLD Sports Expo in Columbus, OH...
VERY interesting.

I'd heard the show had morphed from just attracting muscle-bound men to include almost anyone who participates in a fitness activity of any kind, and I have to agree. Among the 150,000+ throng were little girl cheerleaders, fitness models, martial arts people, funky people in weird costumes, he/shes, and the traditional body builders, among others. Quite the creative bunch!

We had lots of nice comments and sales -- was even called "genius" (yeah, whatever...just throw some $$ at me already...) ;-) Arnold (yes, THAT Arnold) was even over at a nearby booth and I was hoping to get him to stop by and sign the letter from his wife that I brought with me (...hey, Arnold! do you know Maria?), but no such luck. He was mobbed and I barely saw anything but the top of his head. oh well...

On the way home, I had the pleasure of meeting Andy Haman, one of the more well-known ARNOLD participants who sat near me on the plane coming home. And of course I had to see if PortaPocket worked on his arm (no problem) -- he was kind enough to oblige :) Anyway... he & his family are working with a MAJOR cable channel right now on a show about the strongest family in America (or something along those lines)...nice folks... I hope it works out for them!

You just never know who you'll run into next...
Who have you happened across in your day-to-day life?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

O the VIEW! now standing on my head... in traffic. whoopi!!

So there I am watching Oprah re-run last night at 11pm CST.
And there are the ladies from the VIEW as guests.
And there's Oprah saying to them --
something to the effect of.... "I can tell alot about someone from what she keeps in her purse... "
and there's Barbara, Joy, Sherri, & Elisabeth showing what's in theirs.
and then there's Whoopi.
And well,
Whoopi doesn't carry a purse.
so Oprah says to Whoopi, "so where do you put your stuff if you don't have a purse?"
like, He-LLO????
I'm sitting here screaming at the huge chasm the size I could've driven a Mack truck through.
talk about the PERFECT time to mention PortaPocket.
...but no.
I've sent samples to the VIEW, wrote on their website, mailed 'em to Oprah, walked them into harpo myself, sent 'em to Gayle, Whoopi, Sherri, Barbara, Elisabeth, tweeted, facebooked, commented, and yet...
here I still sit.
an unknown soldier.
Maybe I'll just go play in traffic.
that'll get someone's attention.
maybe not?

Friday, January 14, 2011

So who hasn't been to Chicago?

okay okay...I know....MIA, right??
I've been just a teensy bit busy, so once again forgive my ever-expanding time lag between posts *ack!*

I'm gonna kick off 2011 with some good 'ole hometown cheerleading...
If you've never been to the Windy are some great places to visit in Chicago that are unique to us here & well worth the time:

1. Even though no longer the tallest in the world, the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) has an observation deck on the103rd floor that is impressive to see...
At 1353 feet, the building is still a sight to behold and the 3rd tallest on the planet. There's now a glass box Skydeck ledge that juts out over 4' from the building...only for the brave!
I used to work in that building back in the early 1990's (on 26th floor) and actually experienced an earthquake while working there. Fortunately it was a tiny one ;-)

2. Take an architectural boat tour on the Chicago River. It's an awesome way to experience the beauty of the city from a different vantage point and they operate at many times of the day. Plus, they run up & down the only River in the world that actually flows BACKWARDS! Wendella and Shoreline are a couple of those who offer these sojourns, and are easily accessed off of Michigan Avenue in the heart of the city.

3. Speaking of boats, our renovated Navy Pier is a treat with outdoor cafes, concerts, shopping, rental bikes, boat tours of Lake Michigan and things like a giant Ferris wheel, mini golf, and current home to the Chicago Children's Museum. You can spend a full day here and never run out of things to do.

4. Take a Michigan Ave stroll. For the shoppers among us, and even for those who aren't...there is a worthy promenade down the Gold Coast and passing the likes of Millennium Park (check out the BEAN sculpture, fountains and the Gehry-designed Pritzker Pavilion among other treats), the famous Art Institute, Orchestra Hall, and more. Grab a horse drawn carriage ride and enjoy the views.

5. Museum campus. For any taste, this swath of culture can deliver. This is a compendium of the Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium, and the Field Museum of Natural History, each of which can be enjoyed from a central space although there wouldn't be enough hours in your day! Soldier Field is also nearby for the Bears fans among us.

I could think of at least a dozen more, but perhaps in another post ;-)
In any event... we'd welcome you to see our beautiful city and are certain you'd enjoy your visit!